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Grateful for the Advice?

Porto Alegre, Brazil, is the site of the fifth annual World Social Forum – a sort of leftist anti-Davos (or, rather, anti-what-the-left-imagines-about-Davos-and-globalization-and-capitalism).

Accounts of the event reveal the expected goings-on, such as calls for debt forgiveness, international worker solidarity, and a halt to globalization.

But perhaps the most interesting proposal is reported in today’s New York Times.

Grateful Dead lyricist John Barlow said poor nations can’t solve their problems unless they stop paying expensive software licensing fees.

It’s tempting to do a riff of ridicule of this sort of thing. But I’ll resist and say merely that such pronouncements are further evidence that gatherings such as the World Social Forum are not really serious efforts to answer questions about how to improve the lot of the world’s poorest people.

If they were serious, they would read this book — and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one.


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